Labour MEPs for the North East of England, Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen, have called on the Conservative government to “lead by example” and condemn the language of war and conflict used by senior politicians and much of the press in the UK in relation to Brexit.
In a letter sent to Boris Johnson, a group of cross-party MEPs are urging the Foreign Secretary to “unreservedly condemn this dangerous and harmful use of hostile language”. The letter states that terms such as “war-cabinet”, “punishment”, “demands”, “blackmail” and similar do not promote an image of a deep and special relationship, but a hostile one.
Just last month, the Foreign Secretary himself was called out for using inflammatory language in a speech where he stated that those who seem determined to stop Brexit are “frustrating the will of the people” – an action which will lead to “permanent and ineradicable feelings of betrayal”.
Commenting on this, Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said:
“Politicians have a responsibility to be ever vigilant about the way that language is used to unite or divide people. By using this type of divisive language, they fall into the well-worn tread of populists in the past, who have sought to divide people at a time in which greater unity is needed.
“Boris Johnson needs to remember that democracy is a fragile plant that depends on the water and light of public debate. Our national political discourse sets the tone of that public debate and this type of inflammatory language has no place in it.”
Paul Brannen MEP commented:
“There have been many occasions when Boris Johnson has used language that it is ill-considered, sometimes downright offensive and on one occasion it could have even caused genuine harm to an individual.
“His role as Foreign Secretary should be to enhance the UK’s reputation across the world, instead he specialises in diminishing it. In the context of Brexit this is deeply worrying for our country’s future and I call on him and the Tories to do what is right and treat the negotiations with our EU friends with respect, using moderate and appropriate language only.”